Drew Afualo Makes Grown Men Cry
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Drew Afualo Makes Grown Men Cry

In just 40 minutes, Drew Afualo has given me at least a dozen new ways to insult a bigot. Among my favorites are, "You sound like Donnie from The Wild Thornberrys," and, "You look like you sell cell phones in a Sam’s Club,” as well as nods to Shoe Palace, Geico and the idea of merely existing in Topeka, Kansas. Because when it comes to the fatphobes, racists, misogynists or transphobes, TikTok’s “Queen of the Roast” discovered a long time ago that it’s far more effective to ditch the high road and just go straight for the ballsack.

With the ability to completely eviscerate the likes of “some bitch named Bryce from Michigan” in under three minutes, the 26-year-old Samoan American has become one of the platform’s most visible creators after starting the roasts in early 2021. Since then, her account’s grown exponentially, currently boasting over 7 million followers and hundreds of millions of views. After all, every single one of her videos are incredibly succinct while also being wickedly funny, jammed packed with razor-sharp taunts and facts delivered like a sucker punch to the gut. So even though she may technically be an “influencer,” it seems more appropriate to call her an “inspiration,” or at the very least an avenging angel who always has the perfect rebuttal and a middle finger on the ready.

“I've always been someone who just really hates people who are disrespectful for no reason,” she said, explaining that she used to leave her “anger” towards these people “unchecked” when she was younger. “I just had no fear of danger or consequences, but now that I'm older it's a little different... But the themes have stayed the same,” as she added. “I've just always been very passionate about sticking up for others.”

As a lot of Afualo’s fans would say, it’s this fearless confidence that makes her so aspirational. Even so, the social media star believes her long-term relationship also has something to do with her popularity, as she likes to think her personal life has “shown women you don’t have to put up with bare minimum shit” in order to attract a partner.

“I've always been very opinionated and very hard-headed in terms of what I'm okay with and what I'm not okay with,” she explained before touching on women being socially conditioned to think “men aren’t going to like someone who's loud and says whatever the fuck they want to say.”

“But that's not true,” she said, pointing towards her own boyfriend of five years, who is, very conveniently, a conventionally attractive trainer with a body her haters wish they had. So when men automatically assume she’s “a fat, single bitch,” Afualo is quick to retort “fat’s not an insult to me” and remind everyone of her boyfriend’s existence, despite the fact that it also, sadly, shows that “men respect him more" than they respect her.

“Even if they find out that he's everything they've always wanted to be, they don't have it in them to disrespect him,” Afualo explained. “But they'll still talk shit about me.”

@drewafualo One of the best years of my life .. & I owe it all to you . Thank u ❤️ #fyp #xyzbca #girls #men #college #funny #embarrassing #YerAWizard #EveryKiss ♬ Locked out of Heaven - Bruno Mars

Despite this unfortunate reality, Afualo’s still managed to prove that she’s more than capable of standing her own ground. In fact, the only issue she’s encountered is having to be much “pickier” about what she responds to, given that her immense popularity has led to thousands of tags in videos her fans want roasted. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s also apparently been the more recent phenomenon of “men intentionally trying to antagonize me,” which she pointed out “makes no sense because I will fuck up your ratio.”

“So no one's ever gonna see your videos because TikTok will hide them. I’m getting them to suppress the content,” she said, visibly confused. “But they never put that puzzle together, which is probably because they're idiots.”

Maybe these smooth brains are also the reason why a weak argument about Afualo being a “bully” keeps popping up, to which she just rolled her eyes and reiterated that she’s “reactionary” content responding to the content “you willingly put out on the internet.”

“So you're upset with me, because I reacted to a video you put out there of your own free will? Like no one’s forcing you to make that content,” she said, pointing out that while the internet is a “lawless land” where you can “say whatever you want,” the freedom of speech “does not mean freedom from consequences.”

Afualo cracked a sly smile, “And I'm a tangible consequence.”

However, she did have something else to say about why the “whole bullying thing only applies to me for some reason,” especially since she views herself as someone just “returning the energy” of their initial video.

“Wasn’t that you just being ‘funny’?,” Afualo said, mocking bigots’ go-to argument about it all just being “jokes.”

“So how come you don't like my jokes? How come you're the only one who's allowed to joke?,” she continued, looking amused as she pointed out her roasts obviously show these guys that it “doesn’t feel very good to have someone comment on your appearance.”

“Turns out, it doesn't feel very nice to have millions of people tell you that you are built like a Lego,” she said. “But I always expect that kind of reaction, because men like that are not used to consequences. Hence the reason they spin out when I stitch them and I tell them they like they work at Valvoline, and it’s like the ‘meanest thing.’ They lose their minds.”

She continued, “Like, they tagged me and said they were ‘never gonna delete this.’ Then I stitch it and they’re like, ‘Why would she do this to me? She’s a big account. That’s so mean.’ But if you don't want someone to see the shit, you talk, maybe don't tag them?”

Afualo then went on to add she “truly doesn’t give a shit about what men say about me ever,” especially if it’s a “bigot telling me I’m a bad person.” The only time she does get upset though is when the criticism “comes from other women or people in marginalized groups.”

“That's the only time hate really bothers me, because I'm fighting for you. I'm on your side,” she said, mentioning that the most common situation is when a woman accuses her of playing into double standards.

“Like, ‘if a man did this, blah, blah, blah.’ Men do this every day. How do you think I have this content?,” as she said before going on to call it “the most aggressive form of job security because men constantly talk shit on women.”

“Like, is this your first time logging on to the internet?,” she said, also noting that these comments come from a white woman nine out of 10 times. “Because I promise you, you'll run into a man that upsets you in some way.”

In Afualo’s opinion, all that stuff about “only driving out hate with love” is complete “bullshit” and questioned why men are never asked to take the high road. Rightfully dubbing it a “patriarchal” and “puritanical belief" only applied to women, Afualo said she’s also wondered whether people would “feel this strongly about what I said” if she were a white man or a thin white woman.

“I don't know why women, especially women of color and Black women, are always expected to be respectful in the face of disrespect. Why?,” she continued. “Why is that expected of me? How come I have to be a whipping boy, for these men who are well in their 30s? And I still have to be nice to him after all that?”

After all, the only thing Afualo’s doing is “returning the energy” that was doled out in the first place. Besides, if someone is saying something bigoted about you, then why do we have to basically apologize for existing? Especially when Afualo’s shown us we also have the option to make a grown man cry with a taste of his own medicine?

“Because it’s always the same thing,” Afualo said, before letting out one of her signature cackles. “Their egos are always rock solid until I come across them.”

Welcome to "Internet Explorer," a column by Sandra Song about everything Internet. From meme histories to joke format explainers to collections of some of Twitter's finest roasts, "Internet Explorer" is here to keep you up-to-date with the web's current obsessions — no matter how nonsensical or nihilistic.

Photography: Lindy Lin
Hair and makeup: Adam Le Simmons
Styling: Cassy Meier
Styling assistant: Dominique Samaniego